What you can do.
The authors open that section by noting, "If you run a gun store, it's your business to make your store a focal point of Second Amendment activism. And if you buy firearm products, it is your obligation to buy products from companies that actively support your rights."
Unfortunately, they also make a largely true observation when they point out, "Browsing a gun store is often a depressing experience for us. True, there are interesting guns and accessories to look at, but well over half of all gun stores do absolutely nothing to inform their customers about what is going on with the Second Amendment,
"Too many stores make zero effort to energize and mobilize their customers to fight for freedom. There are so many easy ways for stores to get into the political arena, it's disgraceful how few of them do."
My impression is that this is changing and that change probably will come even more rapidly as more gun shop owners take the hint from firearm manufacturers, who have finally realized that we are all either going to stand together, or hang separately.
Yet, it may be that the lack of political efforts by gun stores as a whole can still be labeled "disgraceful" in 1996. Hopefully, we'll soon be in a position to ask Gottlieb and Kopel to remove that comment from the next printing of their book.
The book does give a list of six things - some of which we've discussed in SI before - that gun stores can do to become "freedom centers":
* Keep a supply of pro-gun leaflets and pamphlets at the counter:
* Keep a supply of voting registration information at the counter. If your state allows it, register your customers to vote on the spot;
* Display window signs for pro-gun candidates at election time:
* Ask a local pro-rights group to set up a table outside your store on a busy weekend day;
* Advertise in gun rights publications. Newsletters of state and local rights groups are particularly hungry for advertising. It's a low-cost way to reach a core of highly motivated gun owners; and
* Encourage customers to join the National Rifle Association, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms or the Second Amendment Foundation. Make it easy for them to join by having sign-up material on hand at the counter.
As we've discussed in SI over the past several years, there's much more that gun stores can do. What is possible and profitable varies from state to state, from store to store. But do something, become politically active.
If Gottlieb and Kopel wandered into your store, would they label it "disgraceful?" I hope not because becoming politically active is both easy and absolutely vital for the survival of the firearms industry - and your store.
By the way, copies of More Things You Can Do to Defend Your Gun Rights are available for $9.95, plus $1.50 postage and handling ($11.45 total), from the Second Amendment Foundation, 12500 NE 10th Place, Bellevue, WA 98005; (206) 454-7012.